An impactful summer of social change

Climate change. Plastic pollution. Saving the bees. Participation in our democracy. Young people care deeply about making change on the issues they care about, and the Student PIRGs are here to help them learn the skills to be the change they want to see. Outside of new federal investments into clean energy and addressing the climate crisis, young people are pushing for even more environmental progress in the states. We had an impactful summer and welcomed new organizers to our team as we head into the fall. I wanted to take a minute and share some of these highlights with you, and give our new staff a warm welcome.


Training the next generation of organizers

Training is the heart and soul of the Student PIRGs program. We train our students and staff to be full-fledged community organizers, equipped with the skills to enter a community of college students and recruit and train them to run grassroots campaigns that get thousands of their peers engaged and involved every year.

Over the summer, we brought top student leaders together for our National Student Forum, a space for PIRG student leaders to receive training, skills-building, networking, and planning our program for the next year.

This month, we kicked off our annual training for new organizers, welcoming them to the social change movement and giving them the skills and practice to engage college students this fall. After two weeks of classroom training and practice (where organizers made hundreds of calls to connect students to decision makers and ensure students had a plan to vote), organizers are now fanning out around the country to help young people make an impact on a variety of pressing issues heading into the fall.


Governor Baker signs landmark climate bill in Massachusetts

PIRG student leader Annie Sinert at an event celebrating the bill’s passage.

For years, PIRG student leaders from Massachusetts worked to build the grassroots movement for a future powered by clean, renewable energy sources. We were thrilled when two weeks ago, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a climate bill (H. 5060) into law.

The new law will reduce energy waste and help transition Massachusetts’ buildings and transportation system from fossil fuels to clean energy.

To get this bill over the finish line and make the space for action, student leaders mobilized thousands of their fellow students to contact their state legislators in support of clean energy policies, urged their universities to get off of fossil fuels, and won a commitment from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to transition to 100% renewable energy for electricity and heating by 2032. During training, organizers connected dozens of students to the Governor’s office to urge him to sign the climate bills into law.


California closes in on protecting our pollinators

Neonics are systemic pesticides well-known to harm bees and other wildlife.

PIRG students worked with our partners at Environment California to get AB 2146 (Bauer-Kahan) out of the State Assembly. The bill would ban most non-agricultural uses of neonicotinoids, commonly known as neonics, including on lawns, gardens and golf courses.
Now, students are working to get the bill across the finish line, as the California legislative session wraps up in the coming days. PIRG students and organizers spent the last several months building support for this important bill by talking to thousands of community members throughout Los Angeles and the Bay Area in key districts, sending signatures to state legislators, and generating visibility and attention by posting photo petitions to social media, all to make sure we had the support we needed to stand up to the powerful Ag lobby and pass this bill.


Florida International University commits to reduce plastic use on campus

PIRG student leaders in Florida successfully won a plastics-by-request policy at Florida International University. The new policy will reduce the amount of plastic waste on campus. This policy will allow students, faculty, and staff to request plastic items when necessary, and all other plastic items will be replaced with more sustainable alternatives. While the new policy doesn’t fully transition the university away from plastics, this victory is a great example of the impact that can be made by small changes as we work towards our goal of a future that is free of single-use plastic.

 

Dan Xie profile picDan Xie
Political Director
Student PIRGs
@DanLikeDawn

About The Student PIRGs
The Student PIRGs’ mission is to ensure students have the skills, opportunities and training they need to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us. Our youth civic engagement network of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) student-directed and funded organizations across the country has nearly 300,000 dues-paying student members in 11 states. Each year, 4,000 students get their first hands-on experience in organizing and activism while volunteering with us. Every year, we reach hundreds of thousands of students and generate 150,000 grassroots actions. Since our founding, the Student PIRGs have trained over 1 million volunteers.